Opposite Upcycle Aesthetic – Steampunk

The aesthetic I chose for my upcycle project is Steampunk. This is characterized by bleak colors as well as a futuristic vision of the world based on a growing industrial complex. There is a lot of steam engines, flying machines, and metallic equipment that creates a futuristic vision of the world.

After searching through some blog posts, some consider that the opposite of Steampunk would be the Cyberpunk aesthetic. This is characterized by bright colors and futuristic vision of the world rooted in fantasy advancement of technology we have today. There are many dynamic elements such as holograms, screens, and florescent lights. An example of this aesthetic is included below:

Artist Credit: Artur Sadlos; Link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1jFwD2IIf7MUhvso9muIgCPGQ7a58c4u4TH6ThWb9y3s/edit

As you can see, this piece by Artur Sadlos includes bright colors, flying vehicles, floating disco balls, and intensely complicated city buildings and lights. This is very different from Steampunk, which would have a more brown-grey color base with simplistic buildings and steam engine technology. Another example of Cyberpunk is below:

Artist Credit: Clint Cearley; Link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1jFwD2IIf7MUhvso9muIgCPGQ7a58c4u4TH6ThWb9y3s/edit

This piece by Clint Cearley also embodies the bright colors, futuristic technology, and complicated city-scape in the background. In a lot of these pieces there is a character in the foreground, this is often a cyborg-type person similar to the one shown above. This is an interesting aspect that I will talk about a little later.

Although there are many elements of Cyberpunk that are the opposite of Steampunk, I think that the true opposite of Steampunk is much more simple. Since Steampunk itself is also a pretty complex aesthetic, I believe that the opposite would be very simple and straightforward. I think that this would be a very simply drawn and colored nature aesthetic. Steampunk is very detailed and uses metal and engines to depict a fantasy version of the world, so I believe that the true opposite would be something similar to the short sketch I drew included below:

This is a bare-bones, simple, non-detailed depiction of a tree. I think that because Steampunk itself is so complicated, the true opposite would lie in the simplicity of a drawing of nature, the opposite of a complex, industrial-based aesthetic.

Something that crossed my mind while researching the Cyberpunk aesthetic was the frequency at which there is a center character in the piece. In a previous post, I included a photo of a Voodoo Ranger Steampunk-esque character that I said I would like to incorporate in my upcycle project. One way I could incorporate an element of Cyberpunk would be to attempt to make this character the foreground element of my project. Although this may require making my project a little larger than I originally intended, and playing more into the dimensional aspect of the project. I know I could achieve this through camera angles and photos of my upcycle project, but I would like for the character to be in the foreground for someone viewing my physical project. Any feedback/advice on how I can do this is welcome.

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Alex Fitzgerald
    February 27, 2024 3:41 pm

    Hey Jason, great work here! I think you made a great point about steam punk and cyber punk not being true opposites of each other but I agree that for the purposes of this post they make an interesting pair to compare.

  • Ethan Silverman
    February 19, 2024 5:41 pm

    Hey Jason, these two aesthetics are wildly different. The cyberpunk style is so bright and “in your face” while steampunk can be duller but also very intricate which makes it so interesting. I like what you have currently. Have you considered 3D printing the little guy, may cut down on fabrication time?


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